Google is by far the dominant search engine. It has gotten to the point where Bing is actually paying people to use their search engine (note: if five of you sign up with that link, I get a free Starbucks gift card!) and other search engines, like Yahoo, are basically obsolete.
So Google pretty much runs the online world, which is why most of the SEO decisions we make are based on Google’s algorithm. We can rank you for Bing without issue, but unless you’re ranking well for Google, your business isn’t going to thrive.
Will Google Be Around Forever?
With that said, it’s still important to pay attention to trends in search engine use, because there are issues that may come up that could affect Google’s standing as the king of search. Just a short list of examples include:
- “Borrowing Content”
If one thing is going to be Google’s downfall, it is their tendency to want to answer people’s questions with someone else’s content. If you do a search for “What is” something (for example, “What is digital marketing”) you get an excerpt taking directly from a website that isn’t Google.
You can find instances of Google answering questions for you that normally a website would hope to target themselves, and it’s questionable whether or not this practice can continue – or if it is even legal. If Google themselves starts to answer your questions for you, websites and companies will get fewer hits and potentially start to fail.
- Rewarding Big Business
It has also admittedly become harder to rank in search engines unless you’re a big business. Websites like Huffington Post nearly always receive precedence over a website without as much status. On the one hand, this makes sense – chances are these websites are answering the question you were asking.
But as someone that regularly has to research various topics, I can tell you from experience that Google’s search results are getting worse, because the details I need are on websites that aren’t as famous. That’s problematic. I didn’t just switch to Bing for the basically useless rewards program. I switched to them because Google doesn’t give me the answers I need as often anymore when I’m searching for less common things.
- Rewarding Big Business x2
Google is also moving more and more towards Adwords. But Adwords are awarded to the highest bidder. The point of search engines is to bring people relevant information, and yet the more Google promotes advertisements, the less valuable the information on the page.
For example, right now I’m looking at a search for a local SEO company. The first company that pop up in an advertisement is a scammy company. Everything they do is cryptic and most of what they provide has been 100% disproven or can be completed with a few clicks for free.
But there they are, number 1, because they paid for it. That’s fine – that’s what advertisements are for. Yet if Google is making it harder for smaller businesses to compete AND Google is pushing people more and more towards Adwords AND Google is giving Adwords more real estate, then eventually all of the top results in any Google search are going to be bad results: advertised companies that are not what the user is looking for, followed by major websites that aren’t necessarily providing answers to the questions the query is meant to answer.
If that happens, why use Google? Google’s key to success has been and should always be its ability to successfully answer queries, and the way it is currently operating means that fewer results a user is actually looking for will show up in a search.
I saw this first hand when I was working with a psychologist. If you searched for his city + psychologist, you get a grand total of only 1 psychologist. The other 8 results are websites that promote other psychologists, also through ads. PsychologyToday.com, TheRavive.com, Zocdoc.com, NetworkTherapy.com, and a psychological organization. None of those are psychologists, nor are they necessarily that useful to the visitor.
That’s sad. Compare that to Bing, and with the same search you get 6 psychologists out of 8 results, including the psychologist I worked with at number 3. Yes, that means Bing is easier, and in some ways easier can be a bad thing (more prone to spamming) but there is no denying that Bing is doing a better job answering the question, because it’s not rewarding only the largest companies. No psychologist will ever be as large as those companies.
- People Like New Things
Of course, the final reason Google could topple as a search leader is because people like new things. If a search engine comes out with good marketing and good results, people are going to use it, because people like to use things that are new. When Bing first was released/improved, it received far more hits than it did today because it was new. The only issue was that after it was all over, people went back to Google.
Yet back then, I would argue Google was better. Google’s search isn’t what it used to be, and so a well marketed search engine by a major company could still break through and be the “next new thing,” and if it delivers on that potential, it could topple Google in search.
Targeting Google Search the Right Way
Despite all of these issues, Google search still does one thing right – it focuses its efforts on rewarding websites with unique writing while punishing those that copy, scam, or use low quality content. Right now the search results are simply not as good as they used to be, but Google does tend to make smart decisions, and if they figure out what will start making search results better and avoid some of the issues above, they can still reign supreme.
Google is vulnerable, but they are also smart. It’s easily possible that they rectify all of these vulnerabilities before they become an issue, just as it’s possible that their sheer size allows them to continue to perform even with a worthy challenger. But Google is vulnerable, and it’ll be interesting to see if a worthy challenger can ever come to take its place.